LambdaLiterary.org launches tomorrow, Monday March 1st. It's going to be-- Well, there just aren't words for how shockingly fantabulous it's going to be. I can hardly wait.
Yesterday, GalleyCat had a story that caught my eye:
In a series of memos today, Random House, Inc. announced some wide-ranging changes at the company. Nina von Moltke, Random House's VP of Corporate Development, will now serve as VP of Digital Publishing Development--overseeing some restructuring in the company.
CEO Markus Dohle explained the transition: "Aside from her new task of supporting the development of our digital content offerings across the divisions, Nina will also oversee the Random House Audio Publishing and Fodor's Travel Groups. Both groups provide excellent models of successfully transitioning from analog to digital businesses, and I know that they and our traditional trade publishing groups will benefit by having them integrated into the corporate-level digital publishing team."
Look at the language. Publishing is no longer 'publishing' (norm) and 'digital publishing' (outlier/other) it is 'analog' and 'digital' business. Publishing is now using the terminology of the digerati.
It caught my eye because yesterday was, for me, an historic event. For the first time, one of my regular royalty cheques (from, you guessed it, a Random imprint) was more ebook than pbook: $190 to $140, respectively.
The world is changing...
I'm writing this at 2 in the morning and my brain is fried. Two things, then a nap.
One, LambdaLiterary.org relaunches on Monday, March 1st. More on that later. But I tell you, it will blow your mind.
Two, Sterling Editing has its (our) weekly links for writers up. This time some nifty advice from Laura Miller, some giants of the field, and...a four year-old.
I stumbled across this review [link fixed] of Stay last night and, I dunno, something about it really tickled me, so I thought I'd share. [Update: over on Facebook, Val McDermid kindly points out that "Without Aud, it's hard to see how there could have been a Lisbeth Salander." I think Val is most perspicacious.]
And, uh, that's about it for today. Still working madly on the new LLF website (oh, I can hardly *wait* to show it off). Still marvelling at the spring-like weather we've been having here. Still watching West Wing eps because my brain is so full of stuff it seems pointless to even try to cope with something televisually new.
Also, I've just started re-reading Wildside by Steven Gould (skiffy adventure YA), which is enormous fun and nice and light.
I'm still busy building the new LambdaLiterary.org (it's coming soon, really--go help us by completing the survey). Meanwhile, please enjoy these links and bits of news.
Scott, at Go Into The Story, exerpts Leigh Brackett talking about her screenwriting. Here's what she has to say on how she got her start as a screenwriter. "My agent, Hugh King, had been with Myron Selznick, my agency at that time, and he had gone over to Republic as story editor and had sort of managed to shoehorn me in because they were doing this horror film . They decided to cash in on the Universal monster school, and I had been doing science fiction, and to them it all looked the same—bug-eyed monsters. It made no difference. I did The Vampire's Ghost there, and just out of the clear blue sky this other thing happened, purely on the strength of a hard-boiled mystery novel I had published. Howard Hawks read the book and liked it. He didn't buy the book, for which I can't blame him, but he liked the dialogue and I was put under contract to him." (You may know Brackett better as a science-fantasy novelist.)
OutlantaCon has cancelled my appearance as Guest of Honour (and Kelley's). We had a written agreement regarding travel (I've talked before about what I need and why: I have MS), and sadly they now feel that they can't afford to honour it. So we're no longer invited. It's a pity. I think it would have been a very cool event. Ah, well.
Richard Curtis, over at E-Reads, discusses the latest e-books sales figures. Here's the money sentence: "The industry reported more sales in the fourth quarter of '09 ($55,900,000) alone than the total sales for all of '08 ($53,500,000)." But of course there's more to it than that. Those who are now reading ebooks on dedicated devices (like the Kindle--which is what I use) are essentially abandoning paper books when there's a choice. (I prefer paper books for research materials, but for long-form fiction, the Kindle kicks paper books to the kerb.) You might to take a look at Mike Shatzkin's blog for interesting business perspectives on digital publishing.
It's Friday, links-for-writers day over at Sterling Editing. We have a little something for everyone: podcasts, lexicons, discussion, insider How To, and more.
Happy Friday. I'm going to enjoy some sunshine.
Three things for you to look at today.
Independent article about Tereska Torres, reluctant queen of lesbian fiction. "Few authors are credited with creating an entirely new genre. One writer who can make that claim, to her great dismay, is the French novelist, Tereska Torres. In France, she is known as the author of 12 serious and well-regarded books. To the rest of the world, she is the mother of lesbian-erotic pulp fiction." Oh, I remember that book: wonderful lurid cover. Heart-thumping juiciness. Now she's rewriting it. (via @LambdaLiterary)
Empathy, Not Apathy, an open letter by Karla Jay to her students. "Where have we failed you? [...] I wonder why you, my beloved students in women’s and gender studies at Pace University, aren’t out at the barricades in the fight against the interminable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, widespread genocidal acts against women, the lack of equality for the queer community and evildoing by the banking industry." Personally, I think she's not only wrong, but taking entirely too much responsibility. (again, via @LambdaLiterary -- why aren't you following yet?)
So many different kind of edits! My post at Sterling Editing: "A prospective client asked how on earth she could tell which of our editing services was right for her. There are so many kinds! she said. And she’s right: there are as many kinds of editing as there are writers. To make things even more confusing, every writer also needs different sorts of editing at different stages of their project. Also, different kinds of editing are more helpful at different phases of your writing career." It turns out I love the strategic review, that is, manuscript assessment, best. Kelley, on the other hands, prefers develomental editing. Go see. (And, hey, follow @sterlingediting while you're at it.)
First, it rained (note wet deck). Then it shone (note wet shiny deck with genuine shadows). Blue skies. Birds singing. Green-tipped buds glowing gently in the light. The tree you can see in the middle background--I don't know its species, but we call it the torture tree, for obvious reasons--always buds up and leafs out last; it makes this pic look like, well, February. But everywhere else around the house and garden it felt like late March. On Valentine's Day.
And a lovely day it was, too. Starting with home-made muffins. A long and leisurely phone conversation with Carol, my ex in England all about Pies and Prejudice (a book she bought me for Christmas) full of funny anecdotes about the English North/Side divide, and her kids, and life the universe and everything. Then lunch (made-from scratch--as everything in our house is--pasta Bolognese). Then an hour working on a Sterling Editing post, then time with my sweetie. Then dinner and a bottle of soave. We not normally white wine people (unless it's something tremendous like a 90s Meursault) but, what with the sunshine and the buds and Valentine's Day and everything, we felt rather springlike and just in the mood for a promise of summer Italian quaffer. Then on to an ep of a TV series we're watching on DVD (I like watching TV this way; yay for Netflix), followed by an hour of wireframing and planning for the LLF.org launch. Then bed.
I love mist, I find it dead romantickal. I imagine it will be another lovely day.
A couple of weeks ago, I read a funny article in the Economist, "Yammering away at the office." (The Economist is often funny, really) It was part of their special report on social networking. (I love their Special Reports, particularly Technology Quarterly.)
Anyway, this article mentioned something called A-Space:
The recent unsuccessful attempt by a terrorist to blow up an American aircraft in flight has highlighted the need for better information-sharing among security agencies. To improve matters, the intelligence community is developing a system called A-Space, a sort of Facebook for spies that holds profiles of analysts from various agencies and allows them to contact one another and to share large amounts of text, graphics, images and videos.
I thought, Oooh, what a cool idea, then, ten seconds later, Hang on, you mean they haven't been sharing?!
Which led to me going on a rant (while K put on a fond smile and drifted off to some internal landscape) about how stupid people can be and how the world hangs by a thread, a thread! But then, eh, we drank wine and pretty soon I, too, had a fond smile on my face.
Which is just my long-way-round of getting to this: I feel extraordinarily fond of Kelley, and, hey, it's Valentine's Day, and no, I don't care that it's an artificial holiday designed to make card companies and florists rich. In our house we take every single opportunity to delight in life and each other. I hope you have a delicious day. We will.
Happiness is swords and ponies and trees and mist and honour (and, y'know, half naked babes wearing stripey makeup). Happy happy happy.
Who cares if the historical details are all wrong? (There's a reason Romans cleared the ground on either side of the road.) Swords! Ponies! Shouting!
If I were a publisher, I think I would be taking the same non-committal approach to ebook pricing as Random House. According to Roger Theriault at True/Slant, Madeline McIntosh, the President of Sales, Operations, and Digital at RH says
[P]ublishers “have no real experience at setting retail prices.” She also revealed that one of the reasons Random House had not been party to the iBook Store at launch was because of the pricing issues.
In regards to delayed releasing of ebooks, McIntosh said, “Our current policy is we release e-books at the same time as physical books,” followed by “I haven’t been convinced that it’s good for the author or consumer to delay the release. My fear is that the consumer who has fully embraced the technology will buy another e-book that is available or lose interest altogether. What if I train the consumer that the best scenario is to get it free?
(via Richard Curtis)
Just saying. (Don't know why I'm saying it, don't know what I'm talking about? Start here.)
I have some thoughts on piracy and pricing and distribution models that I'll get to one of these fine days but I'm still up to my neck in other things, so that will have to wait. Meanwhile, go read these nifty links for writers over at Sterling Editing.
I haven't had much time to work on Hild lately, but every now and again something pops into my head and I write it down.
The last week it's been poetry. (I use the term loosely.)
Here are two pieces I wrote to be part of the book. English people of a certain age will recognise something about both.
The first is based on a football chant. I imagine it as the kind of taunt one group of gesiths (Anglo-Saxon warriors) hurled at another:
Your sister's your mother
Your father's your brother
You fuck one another
Now we'll fuck you
The second is based partly on a song I wrote in the mid-eighties that I never sang in public, and partly on a Public Service Announcement from slightly earlier, Learn! To! Swim! The PSA ran over and over on Channel 4 when the network first went live: they didn't have any advertising and had to fill the space with something. Anyway, this one is sung by a bunch of women in a bakery:
I'll sing you a story that's never been told
of women from everywhere brave and bold
who creep from their houses in the dark and the cold
to wage war...with bread!
plaited bread and rolls
honey bread and butter bread
and bread that's full of holes
Just thought I'd share.
I've had some big things to deal with this week, which I'll talk about another time. Maybe. Plus I've been working on the new LLF website, which is going to be brilliant--but isn't quite yet because it needs work. Which is what I've been doing. This week. If you haven't filled in our survey about what you'd like to see from a Lambda Literary website, please do that here. (Absolutely and totally working now: glitch-free, woo-hoo!)
Meanwhile, I've updated my not-for-polite company post about Amazon/Macmillan. Don't believe anyone who tells you Macmillan won this one. Though of course writers were the real losers. Again.
And up at Sterling Editing there's a list of links of interest to emerging writers.
I never watch the Super Bowl. I find American football mystifying. Oh, the rules are easy enough (duh) but I don't understand why anyone finds it interesting. I love the idiot-humour commercials, though. So tomorrow = a good day. You'll find my giggling at my desk while Kelley rolls her eyes.
Also, I got my hair cut. I always feel much better when I don't look like a shaggy dog. Like Aud, I'm an anti-Samson. And K learnt to make oatmeal cookies. I think I may become corpulent...
Reading-wise, the last month or so has been split between, on the one hand, focusing on stuff like web accessibility guidelines and usability issues, and, on the other, the gulping of zero-intellectual challenge entertainments. Perhaps I'll get round to discussing a couple of those soon.
Yesterday, it poured down here in Seattle. But we needed to get outside, so we thought, Ah, fuck it, let's go to the park. In Sweden they have a saying: there's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. So I put on my hat and off we went. And, y'know, it was wonderful. We got soaked through, but I didn't give a shit. The world smelt so delicious that K and I, by this time looking like drowned rats, just hugged in the rain and laughed. Happy rats. We were the only people there. It was so quiet (apart from the sheeting rain and rushing creek and dripping leaves) that a raccoon appeared in the fork of a tree, and stared at us. K took a picture of that, too, but, eh, it's a crappy phone camera, and the rain made everything blurred, so I haven't even bothered uploading it.
Even the crows were silent.
I was struck by how intensely alive the park felt. Stuff growing everywhere. Every fallen log covered in lichens and moss and ferns. All the bankside vines and creepers budding (by today some of them will be blossoming). The dirt smelt as though it was waking up. Spring will be early this year.
Today, in fact, the sun is bright and the birds (looking a bit dazed) are singing. One robin was doing that robin-run thing (they lean forward like people in a Lowry painting, and they hurry along at an anxious, hopeless angle) on the deck when I took out the recycling this morning. It saw me and turned its back: it couldn't see me, so I couldn't see it. Deeply stupid birds.
So today I'm dry, and working hard, and only thinking of the park. I hope wherever you are you can get some fresh air. Enjoy it for me. It is, after all, one of the dozen daily delights.
Here's the call for contributors from Antonio Gonzalez, LambdaLiterary.org's web producer.
LambdaLiterary.org is poised to become the leading online destination for LGBT related book news, links, interviews, reviews, and much more. Our aim is to become a dynamic space for LGBT book lovers to gather, share links, network, read reviews, and comment on the state of LGBT literary affairs.
Ours is not a one-stop shop that looks to usurp the hard work of our online peers. Instead we provide a thoughtful, relevant, of-the-moment road map from which to explore the existing network of our LGBT literary landscape. In order to accomplish this we'll need the support of the growing constellation of LGBT book bloggers, critics,
authors, journalists, and impassioned readers. That means we'll need you.
We're looking for writers who want to raise awareness of the sometimes underrepresented books in our evolving literary community, writers who provoke discussion, and will help us to pass down our rich literary heritage. You will be tasked to take action and link back to our site, send us your event information, press releases, and contact information. Together we'll help create the online community and presence we deserve.
THE e-ZINE: The mission of the new webzine portion of the site is to:
1. Aggregate the best LINKS from mainstream and LGBT book news websites, newspapers, and blogs (including influential authors, book bloggers, and literary opinion leaders) through our daily "DataStream" of breaking news, calls for submissions, and events list. (Left Column)
2. Feature provocative interviews, underreported stories, and thoughtful, of-the-moment book reviews. (Center column)
3. Nurture a social community that comments, critiques, links back, twitters, blogs, and interacts not only online, but in person as well — one that integrates seamlessly with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and a network of select web partners. (Right column)
THE FOUNDATION: The mission of the nonprofit organization portion of the site is to:
1. Provide the latest, most accurate information about our Programs (such as Lambda Literary Awards and Writers' Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices)
2. Offer easy ways to DONATE and VOLUNTEER so that our organization can thrive.
3. Give a clear sense of our 22-year history, mission, and policy priorities, plus board of trustees/staff information.
4. Supply readers with a directory of LGBT and LGBT-friendly publishers, bookstores, bloggers, agents, editors and other literary contacts.
In order to accomplish that vision we'll need help from supporters of LGBT literature—people like you. Yours will be an incredibly important task—to raise awareness of the many underrepresented, sometimes overlooked books from our evolving literary community, to provoke discussion, and to pass down our rich literary heritage.
If you'd like to join our community of writers, reviewers, bloggers, and editorial partners please email Antonio Gonzalez (email@example.com).
If you'd like to learn how to donate, sponsor, volunteer or participate in our Foundation programs please email Tony Valenzuela (firstname.lastname@example.org).
1. Your full name
2. Mailing address
4. Phone number
5. Area of expertise
Now here's my plea: go fill in our survey/feedback form here. This is an especially strong plea to those of you who have felt underrepresented in the past. We need your input. We need help. Books by Big Names in LGBT publishing often have publicity teams behind them; we hear about them first. But we want to know what else is going on. We have many talents, but mind-reading, sadly, is not one of them. Please, tell us about anything you think might otherwise fall between the cracks.
The data we gather now will influence our editorial stance, so, please, make your voice heard.
One thing--some people have run into a glitch with the form. I'm not sure we've fixed it yet. But one immediate workaround is call to type 'test' into any box that demands an answer and call it good. Sorry for the hassle.